Big News on the Operating System Front Coming from Google

Carl Weinschenk
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Google seems set to take a big step on the operating system (OS) front, according to reports.

Android Police reported yesterday that two “independent and reliable sources” told it that Google is planning to release a laptop in the third quarter that will be driven by an OS that combines Android and Chrome.

The tech field is rife with acronyms. In this case, the project is “Bison,” the laptop is the “Pixel 3” and the new OS is “Andromeda.” “Fuchsia” is another new operating system being worked on by Google. The relationship, if any, between Andromeda and Fuchsia is unclear.

But something clearly is happening. IDC Vice President of Research John Jackson told IT Business Edge that any step must be taken with great care:

If this is true, the devil will lurk in the architectural implications for developers and the broader ecosystem, particularly on the app-centric Android side. Convergence to date has preserved the core integrity of either platform. With Android, Google has created for itself a commanding position on smartphones – history’s most prolifically distributed computing environment. And it has profited mightily from this as the world’s experiences and eyeballs have shifted to mobile. Obviously, any sort of binary break resulting from a unified OS approach risks disrupting the mobile position. But Google doesn’t need an analyst to tell them that.

The Android Police story provides a lot of commentary on what it believes the laptop, which will be capable of converting to a tablet, will cost and other technical details.

In mid-August, there were reports about Fuchsia. Those reports suggested that the operating system would use the Magenta kernel instead of the Linux kernel. This led experts to suspect that Fuchsia would be aimed at the embedded market, such as car GPS systems, and not general purpose computing. The relationship between Andromeda and Fuchsia is unclear, according to Pocket-lint.

The story says that more light may be shed on Google’s plans soon. The main evidence is a tweet from Google Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome OS and Play, Hiroshi Lockheimer, that points to the next week’s Made by Google Event:

We announced the first version of Android eight years ago today. I have a feeling eight years from now we'll be talking about Oct 4, 2016.

It is possible, though a bit unlikely, that he is not referring to anything related to these rumors. It seems more likely that the company has made some key strategic decisions. IDC’s Johnson has a feeling for what is at stake:

If this is true it will be interesting to see which OS ‘wins.’ Recall that Chrome is organic Google and therefore most closely reflects the company’s philosophy about how digital services should evolve. Android was a timely and highly effective acquisition.

Android and Chrome have been growing closer, in part because Chrome OS includes Google Play Store access in beta. The likelihood is that the relationship will grow even closer a week from today.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.


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